More than a few 'commentators' on the defacto cuts announced on Thursday by UK Chancellor Darling, as part of the plan to make the public sector pay for the banks' bailout, sought to praise the ruthless cuts announced on the same day in Ireland. The message is clear so far as these characters are concerned - we need to cut and cut hard. This means cutting services, cutting jobs and cutting pay for those who remain. Needless to say the bankers must still get their bonuses because they are 'usefull' unlike such wasters as teachers, nurses, social workers and so on. One idiot even came on Sky News to say that the public sector needs to embrace the private one - quite ignoring the botched job done by the privatised utilities over the last couple of decades. Whoever wins the next UK general election (particularly if it is the Tories) will be looking to the Irish model as the next step forward. Already the Irish labour movement is talking about a fightback - we agree and call for that campaign to be one of action not words. In Britain this must be the response also - even a 1% payrise limit will, allowing for inflation, represent a cut in real pay for those least able to afford it.
We reproduce below a statement from our comrades in Ireland, organised around Fightback , issued on the day the Irish cuts were made public:
So, the Gards are voting for strikes and the Turkeys are voting for Christmas. That's right, the “Soldiers of Destiny” will be voting for the Budget today, Wednesday. They'll be voting to cut Child Benefit, cutting Social Welfare, cutting services to old people, the sick and the children. The same children that they claim to be defending form the terrors of the clerical abuse. Its not so long ago that people were flooding back here to take advantage of the Celtic Tiger. But in the Ireland of today the only people taking advantage of anyone else are the bankers and the big bosses.
There can't be a town or a village in Ireland that hasn't suffered. Not a street where a family hasn't had to work out what to do when someone loses their job, or goes on short time. If we had predicted this 5 years ago, we would have been derided as fools. But today in Ireland capitalism is at an impasse. That impasse has forced us into the situation we are at today. The image they sold us in the nineties and the noughties was of a transformed Ireland, some sort of damp green paradise embedded in the euro zone, but with one foot in the US and an eye to Britain. Now Ireland is floating loose in the ocean of the world crisis tethered only by cheap shopping in Newry and a long memory of survival in hardship.
Sure, Brian Cowen was unsure of himself when he announced that he wouldn’t be supporting the suggestion that the public sector workers ought to volunteer for short time working. But when the man has already agreed to support vicious attacks on all that we are supposed to hold dear in Ireland, families, and children, education and the old ones, then maybe he was only after fluffing the autocue. But maybe there is more to it than that. Maybe the Taoiseach felt something give way under his feet. Maybe he felt the beginnings of a political earthquake that will sweep away all of the small minded hypocrisy of the Irish Bourgeois, the master plans of the multinationals and petty vindictiveness of “Business” in Ireland. If even the Gards are voting with their feet, then it’s time for Cowen to go.
- Sieze the time; Fight for every job and every cent
- Make the bosses pay